Arsenal kicked off the first 25 minutes clearly on the front foot and not only owned nearly 82% of the possession but also forced Östersunds into 3 errors, managed to get off 10 shots, and scored 2 goals.
Arsenal dominated touches and passes in the first 25 minutes by 81% to 17%:
Arsenal also managed to dominate nearly every other category as well – Tackles and interceptions were nearly identical but remember that Arsenal had almost 82% of the ball. So, identical numbers in that context are actually quite uneven. I should also note here that Östersunds 1 shot was actually their own goal. I used the data from Whoscored.com to create this chart and that’s how they had it scored.
Once Arsenal went ahead 2-0 Österstunds seemed to either remember that they could play or throw caution to the wind and suddenly gained a foothold in the match. Arsenal still had a majority of the ball but it wasn’t 82% and was a much more modest 53-47% advantage for the London side:
Incredibly, Arsenal seemed shaken by the Swedish side and they were able to force Arsenal into 2 errors in addition to the aforementioned penalty. Well, I say “incredibly” but anyone who has watched Arsenal in away games this season knows that the team are error prone (they have conceded the most errors in the League this season with 24).
Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a decent outing in almost every statistical category but did have one black mark on his record.
He completed 88/94 passes and was 100% accurate with his passing in his own half. He did have one bad short pass in the center circle, after which he fell down trying to recover, which looked particularly bad. He did create one shot for his teammates and 4 of his 6 bad passes were in the final third when he was trying to set up someone to score. He also made just one of Arsenal’s 2 through ball passes (the other was by Calum Chambers.)
Maitland-Niles also completed 3/4 dribbles through the center of the park, including 2 rather daring (foolish?) dribbles in his own backfield.
AMN also attempted 5 tackles but only won 3. Where he really shined on the day was with his 18 ball recoveries. Arsenal had 67 ball recoveries on the day (recoveries are when the ball goes loose for some reason) and Maitland-Niles’ 18/67 meant that he had 27% of Arsenal’s recoveries. Maitland-Niles also blocked 4 passes which led all players and accounted for 28% of Arsenal’s blocks in this game.
But the blot on his record is the 4 times he was dispossessed. Two of them were in his own half, near the 18 yard box. Interestingly, three of the four were “standing” tackles, meaning that he wasn’t trying to beat his opponent, he was just trying to shield the ball and all four of them came after the 65th minute. I have a pet theory that Maitland-Niles’ conditioning isn’t quite what it could be for a top level midfielder and while this far from proves that theory I’m going to pretend that it does. He’s also just 20 years old and defensive midfielders get better in possession as they grow older.
Another notable performance from Elneny who was 106/109 passing and I have to admit I love that he’s so incredibly mobile and available for his teammates. He doesn’t do much else, though: just 2 interceptions, 1 tackle, 6 ball recoveries, and 2 blocked passes.
Mkhitaryan had another weirdly stellar performance. He was part of the gang of four who all had 3 key passes (Ozil, Mkhi, Iwobi, and Welbeck). That led all players. He also took 6 shots in this match, which led all players. He had a big chance shot (blocked). But he attempted 5 tackles and only won 1 and he also lost possession 6 times (which led all players). He is a terrific player who just looks a bit out of shape at the moment. But he’s already got 4 Arsenal assists (not counting his pass for the own goal) and he has an Ozil-esque nose for open spaces on the pitch. I can’t wait to see more of this player as he gets used to his teammates and finds his place in the Arsenal system.
Shout out to Calum Chambers who completed 92/97 passes, led Arsenal with 3 clearances, 4 interceptions, and also had both of Arsenal’s errors that led to a shot.
And finally, shout out to Ospina who saved Arsenal’s first penalty since Lee Dinglepop palmed away Tommy Tomagain’s shot in 1989*. You should have seen the haircuts on those guys!
Sources: Opta via Whoscored.com, Squawka.com, and the StatsZone (@statszone) app.
*Arsenal’s last saved penalty was in 2014, Fabianski against Bayern (Muller) and the last saved penalty in the Premier League was Szczesny on Benteke in 2013.